When I first signed up for a few house swapping websites I assumed that non-simultaneous exchange wasn’t an option for me. I have only one home, and I live in it. I admit I was a bit envious of people with the flexibility to offer a second home up for swap on any date, presumably giving them a lot more options for finding an exchange partner. Non-simultaneous exchange avoids the difficulties of finding someone who not only wants to visit your town, to a home of your size and location, but also wants to do that on the same dates you want to travel to their town.
After arranging several very successful simultaneous exchanges, and also learning more about guest points and other non-simultaneous swap options, I realized that I can participate in this other system of home exchange. There will always be trips I take that don’t involve swapping, whether because I can’t find an exchange partner, or because I’m going camping, or visiting family or friends. And these trips leave my home completely unused, and hence available for a non-simultaneous exchange. I’ve also found that some people are willing to vacate their home and stay with family or friends in order to execute a non-simultaneous exchange. I’m not sure I want to do that, but it’s certainly an option, especially for people who have a comfortable place to stay near their home.
There are two types of non-simultaneous home exchanges:
- The conventional exchange where someone stays in your home and then you stay in their home on different dates. Most home exchange sites support this option.
- Swap points, a system which allows you to offer your home to someone and in return you earn points you can spend to stay in any other home participating in points exchanges on the website. This later system provides a lot more flexibility. A relatively new option, swap points are now supported by GuesttoGuest, LoveHomeSwap and a few other sites.
I’ve recently hosted people falling into both of these categories.
First there was a couple from Paris. While I’d love to visit Paris in the near future, I don’t have any plans to do so. But their trip fell during a week when we had plans to be out of town visiting with friends. So I invited the couple to stay in our home using swap points. They were very grateful, especially since they were having no luck finding a swap. They arrived in town a few days before we left, so we had an opportunity to meet before leaving them in our home. And they used these extra days to enjoy a short local getaway outside the city. Their visit went very well and they left us some lovely French foods and wine as a thanks.
Just last week a couple from New Mexico stayed in my home while we were away backpacking. In this case the non-simultaneous swap is for their vacation home, a place we’d like to visit, and a relatively easy flight from here, so we opted for an open-ended non-simultaneous exchange. At some point in the next year we plan to visit Santa Fe and take advantage of this house swap, but if it doesn’t happen I won’t feel bad. The couple who stayed here came for a wedding and took very good care of our home.
I’ve heard a lot of experienced home swappers criticize non-simultaneous exchanges and points swaps as something that isn’t possible for people who only own one home. I used to think this was the case, but I’ve proven otherwise with very little effort. I’ve also heard criticism of the trust element with these systems since you don’t have the added comfort of knowing that you are taking care of each other’s home at the same time. I think this is a reasonable concern. But non-simultaneous exchanges still involve pre-swap discussion to make sure you are comfortable with people who will be in your home (I have used skype to video chat with several potential swap partners before making an agreement). There are plenty of stories about simultaneous exchanges where swap partners left the house a mess, and I think this and other potential problems need to be negotiated in advance. I don’t think there’s any evidence that non-simultaneous exchanges lead to more problems, but as swap points gain popularity we will learn more.